In every home, there are a few appliances that use the most electricity compared to everything else. Your HVAC (AC and heat) system is usually the top consumer, but your refrigerator is a close second. Fridges take a lot of power to keep the coolant and cold air cycling, but they’re so useful that we gladly spend that power.
That said, there’s no need to use more electricity than you need to. Especially if your fridge isn’t getting cold enough. Fortunately, the solutions to one problem are the solutions to both. Let’s dive into refrigerator efficiency – making more cold with less power.
1) Dust the Coils Clean
Start with the coolant coils. Refrigerators run coolant through a complex looping set of metal coils. Those coils get very cold and the air is blown over them into the freezer compartment where the coldest is needed. However, because the coils are cold against air, moisture forms on them just like the outside of an icy soda glass. This condensate then picks up dust which forms a blanket over time. Too much dust on the coils means that the blowing air can’t get cold and your fridge loses efficiency.
Then the fridge works harder to achieve cold, using more electricity.
To solve this problem, simply flip your fridge so you can access the back. Use condenser brushes and your vacuum hose to clean the dust from the coils. Do this every year or so and your fridge will stay in much better condition – creating more cold and using less electricity.
2) Use a Shelf Thermometer
Place a small thermometer on the shelf of your refrigerator. Your refrigerator should be at about 40 F, where freezing is 32 F. Most fridges have a thermostat dial but the settings are from Cold to Coldest – not all that informative. If you want to know how cold your fridge is, learn with your own fridge-safe thermometer.
Take notes. Move the thermometer around. Find which spots are coldest or warmest and arrange your groceries accordingly. Then don’t set the fridge temp lower than you need to.
3) Clear the Vent Path
When cold air is created over the coils, it first enters the freezer. This is where you need the coldest. But from there, it travels through a fan-powered vent into the fridge compartment. Inside both, the fridge and freezer are vent openings that allow this air to flow – keeping both compartments at the right temperature.
If you block the vents with bulky food boxes or packing, then cold air can’t flow through. Check both compartments and make sure that the vents between the freezer and fridge are clear with plenty of airflow.
4) Keep the Fridge Full
Refrigerators are designed to generate and circulate cold, but the food is supposed to maintain the temperature. Consider the difference between an empty fridge and a full one. Cold groceries keep each other cold, just like they do in grocery bags on the way home from the store. The more dense cold mass in your fridge, the colder it can remain after reaching a cool temp.
If you don’t want to fill your fridge with food, just use jugs of water. Water makes a great cold-battery for the entire compartment.
5) Clean the Vent Grate
Finally, clean the grate at the bottom of the fridge. This is where the condenser coils try to blow extra dust and heat. When that vent eventually becomes clogged with damp dust, the fridge loses its best exhaust tactic. Every few months, remove the kick-plate vent and wash it thoroughly before snapping it back into place.
—Does your refrigerator need an efficiency improvement? We can help you to choose the right steps and professional appliance repair teams can help you with any repairs.